Ankle, Chest, Feet, Glutes and Buttocks, Low Back, Neck, Psoas, Quads, Shoulders, Upper Back
Setup and Key Actions
Begin in a high kneeling position with your thighs parallel to each other and your hands on your hips. Either tuck your toes under or press the tops of your feet into the floor. Draw your inner thighs back and your pelvis forward. Lift up out of your belly to lengthen your spine. As you move into the backbend, lead with your chest and let your head follow. Avoid tossing your head back, but also avoid tucking your chin or not moving your head at all. Initiate the backbend with your chest, and move the back of your head back (not the crown) to keep length in the back of your neck. If reaching for your heels, reach both hands back simultaneously to avoid twisting the pelvis. Keep drawing your inner thighs back and your pelvis forward. Imagine backbending over a barrel as you lead with your chest and move the back of your head back to follow. When you're ready to come up out of the pose, lead with your chest, just as you came into it, so that your head comes up last.
If you tend to round your lower back, wrap a strap around your thighs and press your thighs against the strap (make sure it's wrapped tight enough that you feel resistance) as you move into the backbend. This will help support and maintain a healthy lumbar curve. If you tend to overarch your lower back, try squeezing a block between your inner thighs (but avoid tucking your tailbone under—squeeze the front of the block a little bit more than the back of the block).